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The Navy 20, California 16, Navy 7, San Francisco 6, Us 5, Kim 4, Avalos 4, Campos 3, Treasure Island 2, Ms. Brown El 1, Ms. Brownell 1, Greg Burk 1, Robert Burns 1, Madam 1, Amy Brownell 1, Mr. Burns 1, San Francisco Hotline 1, Air Monitoring 1, U.s. Navy 1, The City 1,
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  SFGTV    [untitled]  

    October 29, 2012
    4:30 - 5:00am PDT  

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>> supervisor who normally sits at rules committee could not be here today, but i know that we are still joined by our co-sponsor for this hearing, supervisor avalos. we would like to acknowledge sfgtv who will recording meeting and make the transcript available online. i'd like to recognize bill dilan and greg burk. madam chair, are there any announcements? >> yes. please complete speaker cards as part of the file that should be submitted to the clerk. >> thank you. can you please call item number 1? >> item number 1, hearing on
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the recent navy closure of additional areas of potential radiological contamination on treasure island. >> thank you. i know that we do have many members of the public who are here today. just so we can run through the format, we do have amy from the search department of health and treasurer from the treasure island island authorities and michael to present for the city and county of san francisco. we will have presentations first. we may have questions from colleagues, including myself. and then we will open up for public comment. and this is a time to give feedback and also questions and concerns to us on the board. and then we'll continue the conversation after that. i also want to acknowledge that many of our residents have been writing to us about the outages, the electricity outages that have been going on the island. well, that's not the subject of the hearing today, i just want to let you know that that's something that our office is working on. we're convening the public utilities commission and the
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city administrator's office and tida to see what we can do to support the aging infrastructure through which our electricity runs through. as many of you know, this is the infrastructure that -- well, actually we haven't inherited yet, but it's currently owned by the u.s. navy. it's aging. they haven't put in the investment to improve it mainly because when the new development goes in, we're going to set up an entirely new grid for electricity. that being said, we have residents on the island today that depend on that infrastructure and we need to figure out a solution to that issue. and i'm hoping that we'll be able to announce something over the next couple of weeks that we would be able to serve the residents. i apologize. i know it is impacting your daily life but i wanted to address that before we start the hearing. so, without further ado, i'd like to have amy from the san francisco department of health. and i apologize, difficult want to give supervisor avalos who
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is a co-sponsor an opportunity to say something. >> thank you, chair kim. i have events in my own district as well, but i felt it was important to co-sponsor this hearing so the city could do its due diligence around concerns around radiation exposure on the island. and i want to get more information myself as well. i was pretty alarmed in the sum in august when stories came out and i felt there needed to be a real response to this from our end at the board of supervisors to get information. so, i want to thank the sponsor of this hearing, supervisor kim, for her leadership and i'll be here till about 6:00, 6:05. >> thanks. supervisor campos. >> thank you very much, madam chair. and i want to thank all of the city officials who are here to talk about this matter. but more importantly, i want to thank all the residents of treasure island who are here.
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i think it was really important for us to hear directly from the residents. and at the end of the day, i don't know about anyone here questions the need to ensure to the maximum extent possible the safety of our residents, and that is the effect, that is the goal. so, i look forward to hearing from the department and i look forward to hearing from the residents. and i want to thank the chair of the committee as well as supervisor avalos for calling for this hearing. thank you. >> thank you. i also know that many of the residents had been to our community meeting hosted by the navy back in mid september. and this is really a follow-up to that initial meeting. i know that many questions were asked but they aren't always well answered. and we're hoping this hearing will be an opportunity to clarify a lot of concerns around public health. and also the city's response to that as well. and just so residents know, for those that weren't able to
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catch the board of supervisors meeting where a number of agreements came around treasure island, both supervisor avalos and campos were really that had the most questions to ask regarding the potential radiological impacts in treasure island itself. their efforts and their questions i think have been really important in us work, with the navy to get those answers. without further ado, ms. brown el. >> my name is amy brownell. [speaker not understood]. as you stated, supervisor kim, there was a hearing here on september 11th at the full board where you heard a little about the status of the navy's clean up at treasure island. and then on september 18th, the navy and supervisor kim's office co-hosted a community meeting on the island to present updates and answer questions from residents regarding the navy's recent findings related to the radiological clean up program
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on treasure island. the september 18th meeting was well attended by residents and provided another opportunity for the public to hear directly from the navy, the california department of toxic substances control, the california department of public health, and our office, the san francisco health department. the purpose of tonight's hearing is to assure you that treasure island is safe for current residents and workers, and will continue to be safe throughout the navy's clean up program, and will remain safe after the property is transferred and redevelopment begins. i want to also assure you that the extensive oversight and monitoring of the navy's clean up is being conducted by those two state departments i mentioned, the department of toxic substances control and the california department of public health. and also the city, including the health department. as an example of this, the city recently requested and the california department of public health conducted radiological surface surveys of both publicly accessible and private
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residential areas on treasure island and found no radiological concerns or elevated readings above naturally occurring background radiation levels. on october 5th our office sent a letter to all treasure island residents informing them of the results. the memo that you received this afternoon includes a copy of that october 5th letter, including the report from the california department of public health regarding the scans they conducted. i want to reiterate to you again that no health and safety concerns were identified by california department of public health as a result of the surveys in or around the locations that were scanned, and none of the locations in the areas surveyed returned any reading above natural background radiation levels. department of toxic substances control and california department of health has stated that treasure island continues to be safe -- a safe place to live and work today. treasure island development authority and our san francisco health department are not aware
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of any information that would contradict these statements and findings by these two state agencies. the navy's environmental clean up program on treasure island is being conducted under the regulatory structure that is known by the very long name of the comprehensive environmental response compensation and liability act. under this regulatory framework, the department of toxic substances control is the lead agency responsible for overseeing the navy's clean up effort and the california department of public health is responsible for radiological control and protection of public health. the department of toxic substances control will continue to demand in that role that the navy fulfill their obligations to clean up treasure island and will provide ongoing oversight to ensure that precautions are being adhered to by the navy and its contractors to protect the public. the department of toxic substances control and the california health department have been conducting their independent oversight role and
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working very closely with tida the treasure island development authority and the city. they have also been working with state regional water quality control board and the united states environmental protection agency to ensure that human health and safety in residents and workers is being protected today and will be continued to be protected as the navy completes its clean up. with respect to the precautions that are being taken to protect residents' health, the san francisco health department and the treasure island development authority will continue to work with the two state agencies, the department of toxic be substance control and the california health department to ensure that the navy continues to implement control measures that have been put in place since the navy started its environmental clean up. these control measures include dust control measures, air monitoring at all excavation sites as well as all radiologically controlled areas. our office will continue to review the work of treasure island development authority and its consultants that
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ted: ctionv the base closure meetings and review and and all reports, testing and analysis to ensure the navy's clean up program is conducted in accordance with the highest human health and safety standards. we will also continue to work with the department of toxic substance control and the california health department representatives to verify all navy work is done in accordance with base closure requirements and with proper state regulatory oversight. treasure island development authority and the san francisco health department will continue to make information available to treasure island residents and the general public in a timely manner. treasure island development authority has set up aes are residents -- a hotline treasure island residents and any member of the public can call and leave a message with their comments, ask questions, or ask for additional information about the navy's environmental clean up. the number for that is 415-4 87-4841.
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treasure island development authority has commit today respond to all messages within one business day on that number. finally, i also want to mention that the san francisco health department is committed to making sure all residents can access primary health care through the san francisco healthy san francisco hotline. the hotline's number, again for getting access to primary health care is 415-6 15-45 55. health department is also available, san francisco health department is also available to discuss and meet with residents to address their concerns at any time. they are here tonight to receive your input and comments firsthand. thank you very much for your time and we will continue to provide new information as it becomes available. >> thank you, ms. brownell. i know that a couple of issues really came up for me that i heard from the public comment at our hearing in september. one was, of course, the
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concerns about the reports that have come out about these new potential sites. the second was that residents had observed what they perceived to be safety violations in terms of how contractors were cleaning up the land. and third, of course, were the current health of the residents and what can they -- and who can they go to for their current health needs. or when they are suspicious some of this might be from contamination on treasure island. you had said that based on the memo that we had gotten from the navy, california department of health, department of toxic and control substance, that what we perceive as happening on the island is that residents are safe. i think where it gets confusing, of course, well, if they're safe why are we doing further evaluation. so, could you explain -- could you explain that? >> correct, thank you very
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much, supervisor kim. so, the issue i think that as you aptly stated is that the california department of public health has done these surveys and they have found no contamination and no health and safety concern, and they've surveyed a lot of areas. i can put up a couple maps. you received that in the memos that you've gotten. and the residents have all received those maps also. i put it on the overhead of the map of where they scanned. so, the dark blue areas are the areas that have been scanned by -- recently by cdph. those are the area -- those are in the publicly accessible areas and this one down here is the residents in their backyards that were areas of concern. and these have all been scanned.
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and as i've stated, there have been no health and safety concerns or any areas -- any readings above background. in addition, the california department of public health scanned five additional areas. these light blue areas, that are not even on the navy's list or of any concern, but they were asked to be -- city asked them to scan them just because they are high use, high traffic areas just to verify that there's no problems. and again, none of these areas showed any levels and they are all considered safe. so, the question is well, why is the navy doing any work if everything is fine. and the answer is the navy is required to remove any levels above background. and you can have levels very high above background and not be a health concern. and that's the disconnect that people don't quite understand. in this case, as i said, all the areas that they surveyed, they haven't found anything above background.
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but if you did, would it necessarily be a hazard today or to any residents? so, when the navy does their scans and they very carefully move soil around and scan some more and scan some more, they might find an area above background and they are required to clean that up. and, so, for those areas they are working in these purple areas here called the solid waste disposal areas and they have found some contamination there and they are required to clean it up. those areas are inaccessible and fenced off. so, they are doing their work and they are required to do that. and the reason they are required to do that is that in the future they want to release those areas and be able to say there is nothing there, there are no problems, nothing above background. so, that's why you can have this dichotomy of, yes, there is work to be done and they're doing it, and the navy also, while they are doing it, they scan and survey the boundary of the area and they make sure
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that there's no problems at the boundaries so that even if a resident stands right at the fence and watches what they do, there's no problem with that. and that's why everyone can say with confidence that there's no concerns to the residents or workers today. >> i have a question about the term above background. can you explain what that means why the navy has to colina above background if the background means that there isn't any concerns for the current residents? >> okay. so, the concept of background is everywhere -- there's radiological substances everywhere. there's radiological substances in our bodies, in this building, soil, air, water, it's everywhere, all around us all the time. and, so, when the cdph does their scans, they check and they verify, yes, we're seeing radiological substances because they are everywhere, but it's all the same background level. and they can tell that instantaneously by looking at the readings on their
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instruments. and do that. so, the navy with the oversight of the state agencies has made these agreements that they will -- when they do their scans of the areas of concern, if they find what we call these commodities which are old instruments that -- on treasure island in general, they tend to be old instruments that were painted with radiant paint -- i'm sorry, paint that glowed in the dark that contained radium. some of them are so disintegrated they can't tell it's an old instrument but they can detect it because of the reading. so, the navy has made an agreement with the state regulatory agencies that even though it's barely above background but they will take it away and clean it up. and again, that gives us confidence so that in the future when we want to build whatever we want to build and we want to move the soil all over the place and dig it up and move it around and build a whole new development, we will
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never have to worry. all the soil will be safe. there won't be any concerns about any levels. >> so, if i can just paraphrase what i think i'm hearing from you, so, you're saying what we have currently seen from the var by the state and through dph's assessment of the surveying, all current resident islands are safe doing what they do today on the island. but the reason why the navy may have to do further work or further clean up if they find additional, i guess -- if they find anything above background level is because the new development -- the land may not be safe for new development. >> right. the current configuration is residents are allowed to go to their houses, go to their jobs, do their work, whatever. but they're not allowed to go and take a shovel and start digging all over the place. >> okay. >> that's just a restriction on the leasing. maybe we need in certain areas,
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in the newly impactedth areas they will verify whether they need to check or look in that way. we need -- to protect all the future development, we want to make sure that every grain of sand underneath there is okay. >> got it. now, something i hear from residents, the dogs play in the backyard, the kids play in the backyard, they roll around in the grass and in the dirt. is that okay? >> yes, because the california department of public health has done, including in the residents' backyards, these gamma surface surveys and those instruments can see not just the surface but a little ways underneath. my understanding is up to 12 inches underneath. so, if it is okay for the children to roll around on the grass and the dogs do what dogs do, they did those surveys. that is why they can say to the residents that is safe. >> i have further questions and issues i want to allow
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colleagues to ask questions. supervisor campos? >> thank you. if i may, and i appreciate the questions from supervisor kim. i wanted to follow-up on a discussion that we had the last time that this item was before the full board of supervisors. this is actually something that was reported in the examiner. as you may recall, robert burns whos was the ceo of ntgs, inc. which is the entity that provides clean up oversight at treasure island. when i asked him about potential health risks he noted at least in his presentation to the board, and he said the following by the examiner. he is quoted as saying likelihood of a public health risk, i would say probably less than 5%. end quote. my point at the time was, you know, 95% is pretty good.
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but i think for anyone living on that island, any parent, anyone who has family, you know, 5% chance of maybe a likelihood of a public health risk, that's too high. and, so, that comment, at least i can only speak for myself, certainly did not reassure me. and i can imagine how for residents of the island that was not a reassuring comment. and, so, i am wondering if you can address that point. >> so, again -- thank you very much. he was asked to make a speculation and in his judgment that was his range that he wanted to do. i really can't comment on the details of why he would speculate that. i, again, just need to reiterate that the california
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department of public health who does these surveys and has scanned all of these locations has said that they do not see any health and safety concerns. there are no levels of above background. they do not see any risk to the current residents and workers on the island. and that this is what they do, and they have done the scans and written those reports. so, that's where we ta our evidence that the area is safe. >> do you have any reason to doubt the, as you put it, speculation that was provided by mr. burns? >> i do not have any reason to doubt. he's allowed to have his own opinion and draw his own technical conclusions. but it was speculation. he was asked to speculate, he speculated. >> you know, the term speculation, that's a description that you provide.